Dismantle the Unauthorized Evyatar West Bank Outpost

Haaretz.
Haaretz Editorial
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The Evyatar West Bank outpost.
Haaretz.
Haaretz Editorial

Evacuation of the Evyatar outpost is a ticking bomb placed at the doorstep of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. It seems that if he decides to evacuate it, he will be perceived as having betrayed the values of his faithful followers and voters, and if he does not, he will be seen as a lawbreaker, a mere emissary of the criminals who erected the outpost.

The political dilemma requires no explanation. This is a new government, held together by flimsy stitching that could come unraveled at the slightest insensitive touch. Any action it takes immediately becomes a fateful test. So far, the new government has shown wisdom as it passed the test of Gaza and the madness known as the Flag March.

Evacuating Evyatar is a much simpler proposition because the move would stand on solid legal ground and should raise no questions at all. The sovereign authority at the location, the IDF Central Command, invoked its power to issue a demarcation order for the outpost. What this order means is that all structures within the demarcated area are illegal and must be razed, and the regional commander has the authority to use force to execute the order. Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claim that the order was issued without due authority and that its implementation requires the prime minister’s approval is false.

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Asked by Netanyahu to delay the evacuation until the status of the land upon which the illegal outpost sits is clarified, Defense Minister Benny Gantz responded as follows: “There’s no stipulation in law that requires a demarcation order [by the army] in the Judea and Samaria region to be approved by the prime minister.”

The Civil Administration also confirms that the structures in the outpost were erected illegally, without the necessary permits – i.e., without a decision by the administration’s Higher Planning Council and without a proper master plan. Thus, the public was given no opportunity to file objections.

This means that even if it turns out that the land is not private, as the settlers maintain, the construction of the houses, paving of the roads, connection to electricity and all the other construction activity done so far at the site constitute serious offenses, ones that first of all require that all the structures be removed and the site be restored to its former condition.

It also bears investigating why the IDF is delaying and not immediately carrying out the order that it issued, even if the police have a manpower shortage and cannot easily implement the order alone.

The tripwire that Netanyahu thought to lay for the new government is typical of his entire crooked path and of the tricks he keeps pulling out to serve his own interests, and to try to show that a government and state without him cannot survive. Bennett, who knows the criminal defendant very well and succeeded in ousting him, will also have to negotiate this perilous hurdle. First, it is incumbent upon him to dismantle the outpost.

It won’t be political surrender. It will be obeying the law.

The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.

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